Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 30 seconds
Learn what to look out for on French peages, with a real-life “what not to do” example, and travel the tollways stress and hassle free.
I just don’t know what it is about the peages (payment points) on French tollways.
Despite my own extensive travel experience, they still make me nervous! I’ll ask Kate to have 3 different credit cards, cash or the tickets ready 2km before we arrive. If they aren’t out and ready to go, I get increasingly nervous and a little crazy.
(In the Cycling In France guide I describe exactly what you need to do at the peages, what to look for and how to handle them.)
The peages can have a lot of traffic screaming towards a limited number of gates and if you’re accustomed to the process, it can be crazy.
French toll gates are notoriously confusing. Here are just some reasons why:
- Some have height restrictions
- Some are for e-tags only
- Some aren’t open
- Some are manned, some aren’t
- Some are pay as you go through
- Some are pass your ticket to a person
- Some are put your ticket into a machine
- Some will accept a credit card, but the next one won’t (take multiple credit cards)
Making it all even worse and potentially more stressful is the fact that the peages have a lot of cars going through them so if you make the wrong choice or something goes wrong, you’ll have a lot of people lined up behind you, very quickly.
Imagine blocking a gate and trying to back up into the massive queue shown in the image below!
This has happened to me, and trying to back the car (or campervan in my case) is diabolical.
Reader Daniel R recently sent me an email about a costly mistake he made at the toll gates.
Love getting your emails, which I have been doing since signing up to do last year’s etape. My “top tip” is based on a horrible lesson learned on my way down to the Massif Central last year:
A small proportion of the peage toll lanes have height restriction barriers on them (can you see where this is going) and it is easy (if you are as stupid as me and I don’t think I am *that* stupid) to drive your roof-mounted pride and joy into one if you are not alert. While taking full responsibility for my stupid mistake, I think it is relatively easy to make as:
1) Most people don’t drive regularly with a high load so aren’t automatically on the lookout for such height restrictions.
2) The signage warning of the restriction is not great
3) There are often hundreds of (ok, approx. 20) lanes with only 2 or 3 actually open so you have to make quick decisions about where to point your car.
4) Like me, you’ll often be driving in a foreign country (I am from UK, but please don’t think all UK drivers are as stupid as me).
I managed to destroy the carbon frame of my prized Scott CR1 on the way to the Etape du Tour (Act II) last year and I can still clearly recall the noise which continues to send shivers. Certainly made the next 24 hours exciting getting hold of a loan machine to do the ride I had trained a year for (and raised lots of money for charity). The final indignity is they still charge you to proceed ;o)
If my tip can help 1 person save their bike/trip then I would be very happy.
Thanks and best wishes for enjoying this year’s Tour/Etapes,
PS Come on Bradley )
This is a horrible story (and Daniel doesn’t miss a chance to have a little stab at Cadel and Australia in general!) and I one I hope you’ll remember as you approach a peage in a campervan or with a bike on the roof. There are a few great websites with more detail about the Peages (start with autoroutes.fr).
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